personal history

Elusive articles

I was hanging out with my buddy Jim a few weeks ago and I told him about an old magazine article that had stuck with me for over a decade. It was in a Canadian magazine called Shift which was a tiny competitor to Wired. I really liked it as it seemed focused less on the industry that was making websites and more about the culture and subgroups that were using technology.

Needless to say, it went under many years ago. But the main article that had stuck with me was this imagined interviewed between the author of the piece and Pac-man. The premise was that Pac-man was now a has-been. Similar in premise to Bojack Horseman.

At the time it had opened my teenage eyes to creative writing that tackled something that was real (Pac-man's cultural impact on entertainment and videogames) in a high concept way.

I cherished that mag for many years, keeping it safe and fairly un-damaged in my room. Then I gave it to my girlfriend in college ("former girlfriend;" we went in for the long haul) so she could use it for some of her collages. For whatever reason I hadn't tried to save the articles from it. Stupid past Ben.

Now this issue is my white whale. The year 2000 was not exactly the dark ages. But there are a few things compounding the *ahem* issue of finding anything from that magazine.

  1. "Shift" is not particularly SEO friendly. There is another, unrelated magazine with that name in Japan.
  2. When I've done some searches it pulls up car magazines. Another dead end.
  3. Of course, at the time they kept a lot of articles print-only and weren't around for more than a few years so there isn't an archive of their old articles.

I was able to determine the specific issue from an image description.

The issue in question featured Rosie the Robot from the Jetsons on the cover. That showed up as the January/February 2000 issue. Awesome.

Using that information I headed over to to do some more digging. Sadly, the archive record is pretty spotty for early 2000s Canadian technology magazines, so I had to make do with coming this close to the remembered awesomeness.

Behold. WWW dot SHIFT dot COM circa 2000. There isn't a cache of the exact months that the January issue was current, so it shows up only as a past article. Shame on Shift for not even including a byline on the one article that most needs it, it also had illustrations which probably deserved a credit. Many of the links are still clickable but they just lead to error messages that there's nothing cached. So much for "living in digital culture".

I'm so close and still so far removed. It's slightly more than a memory and I'm pretty sure no one else is seeking this stuff out. But it's interesting to dig around in that middle age between when we didn't record anything online to keeping every minute detail. Before the internet "vacuum of data" was on full blast sucking up everything. All this stuff that is frozen at that moment but still inaccessible.

Dusty Email

I was going to try and get some other writing done, but I got to wondering just how long I had my Gmail account. It turns out I was on board about a year after it's official debut in April of 2004.* 

I had completely forgotten that over the years I've been building up a time capsule of my communications. 

Gmail is a rather new email system that Google created. Google is the ultra-successful search engine, they rather recently opened on the stock market and it’s a pretty hot stock. Anyway, Gmail (short for Google mail) is rather unique email system because you don’t have to delete emails. Ever. They give you a huge amount of space to save all your old emails. The cool thing is that the email system is based on Google’s great searching power, so you can fairly simply search through all of your emails. Its really great for records of transactions from Amazon, or other important emails for classes (or emails from you!).
— a message to my grandparents, 2014/05/19

*almost exactly one year as my Gmail welcome message is from April 17th, 2005.